Creating beautiful hair, nails and makeup are lessons taught at the new beautician school, Avenue Academy of Beauty and Culture (also known as The Avenue), which opened in Austin in December, 2013.

The school provides hands on experience in the hair, cosmetology and makeup Artistry (MUA) fields. The school is owned and operated by Lashawn Jones, 44, who created the school to provide opportunity and flexibility to those looking to enter the field. 

“Not only do we do cosmetology, braids and makeup, but we also train them to become instructors and we are currently trying to get approved for barbers,” Jones said.

Located at 5306 W. Chicago Ave., it’s now home to 22 students who are either working with clientele or looking to take up a related field. Students who enroll in the academy receive their certificate of completion in eight to 11 months. 

Student Shavaughate Hines, 19, said it has been an enlightening experience. She plans to open her own salon within a year of graduating.

“This school is out-of-the-ordinary. I was attending a school out south but it was too expensive,” Hines said. 

“Ms. Jones is like the godmother here, she can be a little hard sometimes but it’s only because she knows we need that extra push,” she added.

The academy was one of several salons owned by Jones under the name Avenue Hair Lounge three years prior to starting the school. Although the school was broken into twice since opening, the burglaries don’t stop Jones from continuing to help provide this opportunity to the community. To encourage the students, celebrity stylists Ms. Willa and Ms. Kiva provide professional advice and tips at the school.

Before opening the school, Jones worked for the Chief Judge of the Cook County Clerk’s office in Chicago. In 1998, she attended Truman College where she received a certificate in cosmetology and nail license. 

Jones traveled to Hong Kong, Atlanta and China in the course of eight months before opening the school to learn various techniques to share with students.

The academy is in the process of receiving accreditation from the National Accrediting Commission of Career and Science (NACCAS) and working on getting financial assistance. Tuition costs $55 a month with a $250 registration fee. For the past six years, Jones has offered free hair, makeup, dress and accessories for girls attending prom.

Beauty school students are graded on how they perform tasks such as hair cutting, perms and nail designs. 

Students can’t receive lower than a 95 percent — meaning all students must graduate with an A. Students receive hands-on experience and can earn tips while they learn.

“I want to bring these programs to schools. I created a letter for the CPS,” Jones said.

“I feel that this will get the drop-out rate back up. Students drop out do to peer pressure, broken homes or they aren’t financially stable and they survive off their talent. 

A license in cosmetology and fashion can help them grow,” Jones explained.

She hopes to build additional schools near universities for those who don’t offer the curriculum. 

The academy has yet to have an official grand opening and wants the community to get involved and help support them.

“Since I’ve been here, I have learned so much,” said Tamara Beasley, 28, who has been a student since March. 

“If someone comes here they will be amazed. The school lets you know when you need to step it up and they make sure our scores are up.

“I have a bright future when I leave here as I want to be an entertainment cosmetologist,” she added.

The Enterprize Zone is a regular business feature in Austin Weekly News. 

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